After toiling in academic
jobs for years, Maria Trumpler ’82 took up cheese-making. (courtesy Maria
PROFILE—Maria Trumpler ’82 Making cheese on the farm
After majoring in biology at Princeton and earning a Ph.D. in the history
of science from Yale, Maria Trumpler ’82 thought her future would be research
and teaching. But when she was not promoted to associate professor and spent
another eight years working in various academic positions, she decided to find
a more satisfying path — making cheese on a Vermont farm.
“I was trying to make something good out of something that wasn’t
so good,” says Trumpler, who saw in cheese-making a way to combine her
science background, love of food, and her desire to live in Vermont.
Five years ago, Trumpler prepared to drop out of the university rat
race by taking classes on the mechanics of cheese-making and by visiting established
cheese-makers. She then invented a recipe for semi-hard Vermont Ayr, which she
makes on a dairy farm in Whiting, Vt., in collaboration with siblings Jim, Sherry,
and Cindy Crawford, who own the farm. She sells her creamy cheese, made from
the sweet milk of Ayrshire cows, to stores, restaurants, and customers at farmers’ markets
all over New England.
Trumpler’s workday begins at 5:30 a.m. She gets fresh milk from
the cows, puts it in her 70-gallon vat, and begins a routine that includes adding
the right amount of bacteria and rennet, separating the curds and whey, and putting
her edible handiwork in cloth-lined molds before aging it for as long as six
months. She made about 8,000 pounds of cheese in 2006.
“I love that it’s all done by hand,” says Trumpler,
who initially did most of the work herself but now has one helper.
So far, business has been slower than anticipated. To help make ends
meet, Trumpler is teaching two women’s studies courses at Yale this spring.
But that’s just a side job. She plans on branching out into other kinds
of cheese and entering the New York market.
“When I was a new Ph.D., I was very ambitious,” she says.
“I’m a lot more laid-back now, and I really don’t miss